Many humans would probably feel differently, but for most us here, this human for sure, and the chimpanzees, it’s really a perfect Pacific Northwest kind of spring day.
Spring has been subdued this year, running about a month late. Things are lush and green, and though a few flowers are in a superbloom like we’ve not seen in past years, most blooms and birds and bumbles are arriving late and in smaller numbers, if at all. Spring here on this side of the Cascade Mountain foothills usually gifts us with a few weeks in April of charcoal skies, rainy, sometimes-cool-sometimes-balmy days and a world turned lush neon green. You almost feel like you’re in a different habitat, so to speak. And speaking for myself as someone who was born and raised along rivers and sea in the fog of the redwoods, and also the now PNW chimpanzees who live here, it’s pretty heavenly. Especially knowing that in a mere few weeks things will be dry and hot and brown. So for now, we all relish and revel in these beautiful days.
Missy led everyone (well, except Negra who was tucked under her sheet in the greenhouse finishing her breakfast) on a walk around the perimeter this morning!
Jody, Foxie and Annie following Missy:
Annie must have been feeling a little braver re: snakes, and walked part of the way with the group and then opted for higher ground on a structure. I saw her later as she sat watching her best friend, Missy, bounce along the perimeter, kicking her feet in anticipation of Missy’s return:
Surprisingly, it was Jamie bringing up the rear today and following Burrito:
She stopped on the log bridge as the rest of the group went on:
The grass is pretty tall know and the chimps can be hard to spot sometimes, which is really wonderful. All along the top of the hill I could only see Missy’s back with each spring as she bounced through the grass as full speed. But she was sticking close to Jody (while keeping it cool) because Jody had found a prized treat that Missy loves: goat’s beard dandelions. You might be wondering about all that gorgeous lupine. In very large amounts it does have a toxicity, but whether it’s that it doesn’t taste good to the chimps or that they have some inner knowing as to which plants are safe, they don’t eat it. (If we observed otherwise, we’d remove it of course).
Unfortunately for Missy, Jody wasn’t in a sharing her goat’s beard kinda mood, but I did go pick some for Missy. 🙂
There are entire meadows of lupine blooming around the sanctuary right now. It’s the most heavenly scent.
Foxie and friend:
Burrito still bringing up the rear:
We are often lucky to host several species of birds who either stop by briefly during migration or return to the sanctuary year after year to nest and raise their families before moving on. In the something like 8 1/2 years I’ve helped care for the chimps, I have never once seen an Oriole and this spring a pair of Bullock’s Orioles in all their fiery orange, yellow and black glory are paying us a visit. They are super elusive so far, but you can hear their exotic songs floating through the sanctuary all day. And we had this special one stop by, a Western Kingbird!
There are few places where I have seen such a variety of flora, fauna and habitat coming together in one place. Mountains, forest, shrub-steppe, meadow and wetland, all woven together at the edges to create a rich kaleidoscope of life. The more you know this land, the more you see how unique it is and if you travel very far in any direction from the sanctuary it is less varied. We have the honor of caring for this land, this refuge for so many, and watching it grow and become more vibrant with each passing year. While it’s certainly a gift for the humans to experience, the real gift is knowing all it provides for the chimpanzees, one tiny bovine family, and all those we hope will one day, too, call this their sanctuary, their home.
First Swallowtail of the season: